This is something special. The opening movie of the JDIFF is powerful stuff and one of the most engaging dramas you'll see this year.
Skunk (Laurence) is a twelve-year-old with type one diabetes living in a cul de sac with solicitor dad Archie (Roth) and older brother Jed (Bill Milner). Skunk's sheltered world falls apart when best friend Rick (Robert Emms), an older boy with learning difficulties, is accused by neighbourhood bad egg Bob Oswald (Kinnear) of sexually abusing one of his three teenage daughters, the youngest of whom bullies Skunk at school.
Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy, playing Skunk's teacher and boyfriend to her nanny (Zana Marjanovic), are their dependable selves but it's the younger cast - the three ASBOs-in-waiting Oswald teens (Nell Tiger Free, Martha Bryant and Faye Devaney) and the unhinged Emms – that steal the show. As good as they are, however, they're put in the shade by newcomer Laurence; her goofy smile is somewhere between childhood innocence and the impending ugliness of maturity.
Broken (as in we're all in some way broken) likes to peel the onion. Rory Kinnear's approach might be fists first/ask questions later but there are layers to his struggling dad and everyone else - not everyone is as bad or as together as they make out. There might be more going on in this street than in a season of Brookside but writer Mark O'Rowe (Intermission), adapting Daniel Clay's novel, is exploring the Babel/Inarritu theme of globalisation, trimming it back to a more manageable and believable scale like a neighbourhood cul-de-sac. Regardless of what you might make of your father or brother or ‘that lot' across the road, we're all in this together.
It's not all doom and gloom, though: there's a running gag with airborne bags of poo, a black kid dances alone in the school car park for some reason and Skunk's reluctance to succumb to the ‘charms' of the new boy (George Sargeant, another newcomer and another sterling turn) has to be the cutest romance this year.
Take a chance, go see this. You won't regret it.